We all have a go-to beauty brand, from iconic high flyers to newer, Instagram-born favourites. But sometimes it’s worth digging a little deeper to find a real gem, be it a small home-grown skincare brand, an all-natural hair collection, a philanthropic beauty company or an expertly crafted luxury line.
It’s an exciting time for the beauty industry, with smaller, niche brands quickly making a name for themselves with the help of social media, influencers and word-of-mouth from a rising number of beauty addicts. There’s a new influx of all-natural brands in particular, taking centre stage in recent months due to the increased demand for ‘clean’ beauty, free-from harsh chemicals, fragrance or animal by-products.
Up-and-comers are addressing these needs and are moving with the times to meet customer demand. Take for example, BYBI, a vegan skincare brand with an eco-luxe feel, or Biolage Raw, a hair brand with a conscience. Featuring the best clean beauty picks, lesser knows brands and newly launched labels, we reveal the most impressive beauty brands known only to industry insiders, and guaranteed to become instant hit in your beauty arsenal.
Seed to Skin
Best for: Luxury skincare
Price range: £56 – £225
With ingredients cultivated on a 220 acre organic farm in Tuscany, you know Seed to Skin means business. One of the most exciting luxury skincare brands to launch this year, the quality of each product cannot be overstated – they are simply divine. Gorgeously packaged in thick dark green glass with engraved metal closures, every detail has been given a lux treatment. However, it’s what’s on the inside of these weighty beauty bottles that’s really worth noting. Sourcing nutrient-rich materials from their own Borgo Santo Pietro organic farm, the level of quality control is an unmistakeable achievement and a rarity in the beauty industry. Dehydrated or mature skin will especially love The Cure moisturiser formulated with thermal and marine plankton, it’s an enveloping dew of the highest order and the best luxury moisturiser we have tried in years.
Best for: Organic skincare
Price range: £12.50 – £38
An organic skincare line with sincerity at it’s heart. BY SARAH is an ideal brand if you struggle with chemical sensitivities or find it almost impossible to buy beauty products without having to decipher a foot-long list of ingredients. Indeed, it was one such situation that lead to the creation of the brand after its founder Sarah could not find suitable skincare products for her sister Lauren, who at the time was recovering from leukaemia. After noticing a multitude of “natural” brands with confusing ingredients and lacklustre results, Sarah took matters into her own hands to create a line of truly organic products. With her sister Lauren now on board as the COO it’s a family affair driven by personal experience and real results. We especially love the body oil and lip balm – clean, honestly made and reliably excellent.
Best for: Subtle colour
Price range: £16.50 – £24.50
Not only is Jillian a well-known makeup artist to the stars, she also happens to be married to actor Patrick Dempsey. Her sharp edit of lid and cheek tints offer a beautifully sheer, natural wash of colour ideal for the ‘no-makeup makeup’ look. The brand is stocked on indie beauty retailer Beauty Mart, and each product will set you back a ‘not-so-bad’ £24.50. Our top picks include the beautifully wearable Petal Cheek Tint and the modern, pretty Peach Lid Tint.
Best for: Personalised sheet masking
Price range: £8 – £29.99
Using enriched serums, Skimono’s bio-cellulose masks are designed to target specific concerns such as sunburn (After Sun +), fine lines (Anti-Ageing +) and dehydration (Advanced Moisturisation+). They’ve even developed a mask for dry hands and hard feet, making Skimono the most niche masking brand we’ve happened upon.
Best for: Fun, Instagram-ready formulas
Price range: £4.50 – £19.95
BOD, which stands for ‘Body On Demand’, is a thoroughly modern ‘Instabrand’ that has made a bit of a name for itself in the industry. Best known for its Bath Prep series (which features ‘Mermaid’, ‘Body Boost’ and ‘Detox’ bath salts), the brand is targeted towards creating smooth, summer-ready skin. Its tanning range and glitter scrubs are ideal for festivals, while the brand new 20 min Hemp Oil and Seaweed Bath Salts taps into the cannabis beauty trend.
Sand & Sky
Best for: Getting your ‘A-beauty’ fix
Price range: £34.90 – £39.90
While the Korean beauty market has dominated the industry for several years now, home-grown Australian beauty is becoming huge for 2018 onwards. Sand & Sky is exemplary of the laid back yet results-driven skincare they have to offer down under. Despite its apparent under-the-radar appeal, Sand & Sky has actually had great success so far in the UK, with its Purifying Pink Clay Mask selling out in 8 weeks in 2017 (a mind-blowing 50,000 were sold). From its millennial pink packaging to the Aussie-sourced ingredients, we can see why their formulas have been flying off the shelves.
The Soap Co.
Best for: Feel-good beauty
Price range: £7 – £49
We’re always on the lookout for a beauty brand that gives back, and The Soap Co. is exemplary. Dedicated to creating employment for people who are blind or otherwise disadvantaged or disabled, the philanthropic ethos behind this brand is a major pull. So too is its irresistible scent combinations (our favourite is the Rhubarb and Geranium), rich formulas and environmentally-friendly packaging. We predict big things for this little soap company.
Best for: Multitasking skincare
Price range: £20 – £45
Created by Dr Colette Haydon, a doctor in dermo-pharmacy, this curated range is all about multitasking. From the Universal Emulsion, which works as a cream, serum and mask in one, to the new Soft Clay Rubber, which acts as an exfoliant as well as a mask, you’re never just getting one product when you purchase a product from Lixirskin. The line is simple and easy to understand with formulas that suit all skin types, and the chic packaging definitely doesn’t hurt either.
Best for: Natural, vegan options
Price range: £9 – £32
BYBI (By Beauty Insiders) is committed to clean beauty, with products that are 100% natural, vegan certified and cruelty free. With a strong eco-luxe identity and millennial packaging aplenty, the skincare in this range is fun and youthful. Its hero product is Babe Balm, a multi-purpose formula for dewy hydration without a greasy residue. You can also use it to refresh a dull complexion by rubbing a pea size amount into your fingertips then pressing gently into your skin when and where you need a bit of glow. We’re also big fans of the Supercharge Serum and Detox Dust.
Best for: Fans of Asian skincare regimes
Price range: £11 – £950
Head over to just about anywhere in Asia and you’re guaranteed to find people talking about Decorté. The biggest skincare brand in Asia, it only recently launched in the U.K. in November 2017. Exclusive to Selfridges and with Kate Moss as the face of the brand, it’s quickly becoming a hit over here too. Opt for one of their sparkling eyeshadows or the Liposome Serum for flawless skin.
Best for: Fuss-free cleansing
Makeup artist Frances Prescott launched her lone product Tri-Balm a couple of years ago, which was met with pure delight from beauty editors and buyers in the industry. Now available in Liberty and on sites such as Cult Beauty, the three-in-one balm cleanses, exfoliates and moisturises, all while housed in the ultimate travel-friendly packaging. This will quickly reach ‘forever repurchased’ status in your beauty arsenal. With a texture similar to a thick lip balm, sweep the stick three or four times across your face then rinse off, the water will activate the formula and turn the balmy texture into a thinner, more workable face wash. Alternatively, if you’re not near a sink you can use the product the same way and simply wipe off with a clean cloth.
Best for: Mind and body
Price range: £23 – £69
Created by husband and wife Anita and Bittu Kaushal after an enlightening trip to India, Mauli is a labour of love. The products are designed with health and healing in mind as well as beauty needs with Ayurvedic teachings at the forefront. Mauli uses luxury natural ingredients and recyclable packaging but with a noticeably lux edge. Our favourite pick is the brand’s Sacred Union Dry Oil, as well as their new line of haircare.
Best for: Natural haircare
Price range: £8.95 – £25
Designed with sustainability in mind, Biolage Raw uses natural ingredients that are gentle on hair. Perfect for sensitive scalps and fine hair, the line consists of colour care and styling products and uses nourishing ingredients such as coconut milk and matcha green tea. Free from silicones, parabens and artificial colour, Biolage Raw’s plant based formulas are an oasis for parched and frazzled locks.
Best for: British made luxury
Price range: £25 – £125
Combining modern scientific research with natural ingredients, Wildsmith skin uses essential oils and natural actives alongside a results-driven approach. The brand is inspired by nature (the grounds of Heckfield place, to be exact) and was created by the village’s owners after they struggled to find a natural, efficacious line to stock in their soon-to-open spa. We’d recommend trying the Global Super Oil, which is guaranteed to turn even the most ‘anti-oil’ of women into believers.
Best for: Adventurous skincare fans
Price range: $25 – $348
Using Maunka Honey from New Zealand, Bee Yü’s products promise to tighten, brighten and add glow to skin. The brand’s other go-to ingredient? Bee venom, which is carefully incorporated into its formulas to stimulate natural collagen production. The best thing about this brand isn’t just its products, but the dedication to helping bees survive through its donations to UK bee charities.
ES Best product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.